Spousal support is a payment the court orders where one person pays a former spouse money to help him or her financially after a divorce. These payments may be temporary or may last for many years. The specifics depend on the situation. Most courts will determine spousal support issues on a case-by-case basis to ensure fairness.
There is no formula for spousal support like there is for child support. So, it is very much up to the court to determine the details of the award. According to the Washington State Legislature, the court has a lot of control over making support determinations based on various factors.
The court may consider the length of the marriage. It will also usually look at the standard of living during the marriage. This will help the court determine if a spouse needs support to allow him or her to maintain an adequate lifestyle or a lifestyle to which he or she became accustomed to during the marriage.
Financial factors will play a huge role because this is a need-based type of support. Child support, for example, is an obligation that does not rely on need but rather a parent’s obligation to financially support their children. People do not have an obligation to financially support a former spouse, which makes spousal support a different situation where the court can dig into financial information.
The court will consider the incomes of each person. It will look at the earning potential or the requirements for a spouse to start working or increase his or her income. It will also look at each party’s ability to support him or herself with the assets he or she received from the divorce.
Beyond the marriage and finances, the court may look at the health of each person. It may also consider the other financial obligations, such as child support, and the age of each person.